A bit of drama began last week’s Key West planning council meeting, when longtime council member Jim Gilleran left the meeting before it started, citing “serious ethical concerns about the actions of the planning department.

Gilleran’s concern centered on Key West planning director Katie Halloran, whose husband recently applied for and received an allotment of building permits for their home at 913 White St. The home is in her husband’s name, according to county property records. So the building permit application was in his name, not his. Other applicants did not initially receive building permit allocations, which are in short supply.

“I am faced with a dilemma tonight, such a serious ethical issue regarding the city’s planning department, that I will not attend tonight’s meeting until I can seek clarification. about it,” Gilleran said early on May 19. Planning board meeting. He then left City Hall and the meeting continued with four other council members present.

When contacted about his concerns, Gilleran told the Keys Weekly on May 24 that he had no evidence or information that anyone, including Halloran, had done anything wrong or unethical. , but that he had “respectfully requested” a meeting. with the City Manager and other departments to address their concerns.

City Manager Patti McLauchlin emphatically told the Keys Weekly on Tuesday May 24 that there was no cause for concern. She said Halloran acted transparently, particularly to avoid such implications of impropriety due to her position as director of planning.

“There were no surprises with this application. Katie emailed me and the Legal Department about this application months ago, and she had asked me the question verbally long before that. She wanted to make 100% sure everything was clear and transparent,” said McLauchlin, who forwarded the Jan. 22 email Halloran sent to McLauchlin and city prosecutors to Keys Weekly.

In that email, Halloran writes, “My family is asking for a market rate (grant of building permits) this cycle. Corradino Staff [the city’s outside planning consultants] have reviewed all applications to ensure they are complete and checked or requested additional documents to finalize the ranking. … In order to ensure that there is no perception of abuse or unethical treatment of this application, I believe that someone other than myself should sign the preliminary letter for the project of my family. The final ranking would be determined by Corradino staff and approved by the Planning Board this spring. I have also discussed the above with Patti (McLauchlin) and my staff are aware.

The Corradino Group is a professional planning agency with which the city has entered into a contract to outsource the planning work due to the lack of personnel in this municipal department.

“I sent this email to provide transparency because I was worried something like this might happen,” Halloran, director of planning since February 2020, told Keys Weekly on May 24. “I had asked the city manager about this last year before I even started the process.

“I think this is a clear, manipulated attack, and there’s a contingent of people who don’t want me in this position,” Halloran said. “My team and I respect the rules. There’s no special treatment for special people, and I don’t think it works for some people. It’s my hometown. There’s no reason for me to mess up my own backyard with something like this.